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So you want to be a crackpot (no, not serious)

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  1. Jun 2, 2007 #1

    matt grime

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    Following on from a poster asking precisely what constitutes a crank, here is a companion piece to mathwonk/zapperZ's 'So you want to be a mathematician/physicist.'

    First, by reading this, you have disqualifed yourself. Cranks don't want to be cranks, they genuinely believe in what they do despite any evidence to the contrary. Although it is not required, it is beneficial if you also believe that there is a conspiracy to suppress your work. This is not needed straight away, though, and can be developed over time. Possibly up to the point of paranoia.

    However, you will need to invest some considerable energy to begin with to generate your theory. I'd stay away from "Cantor is Wrong" and "Simple Proofs of FLT" if I were you since they must now be considered fallow ground. I'd suggest JSH style 'fundamental over-interpretation of galois theory' as your paradigm (sci.math over the last 6 years). Whatever you pick though, you must make sure your work on it uses as many technical terms as possible, and at least bears some passing resemblence to mathematics. This will require you familiarizing yourself with some of the literature.

    Although I said you must take time to familiarize yourself with your chosen area, you must not at any cost make the mistake of trying to understand it. There are two paths, once you have a passing familiarity with the material. You can just spout nonsense about it, without checking. This is infuriating, well done. Or you can tell other people who have understood it that they're wrong. This is even better at annoying those who've taken time to learn the material. Quite possibly they'll have learnt it just to reply to you. Bonus marks are available here for suckering someone into your web.

    When it comes to putting things out there in the public domain, you mustn't actually make your work easily readible. Frequent misleading descriptions must appear _without definition_. I cannot stress that enough. When you refer to, say, the 'inherent organic nature of the real numbers' then at no point should you even offer to define organic no matter how many people plead with you to do so.

    Should you wish to disseminate your material beyond internet forums, then you should preferably host it on your own website (not an academic related site, just myhomepage.myserviceprovider.net/they_re_all_against_me/truth.html). You should also write it in MS Word. Being a crank you will not realize that this makes you easily spotted as such. (Remember, you don't think you're a crank.)

    Hopefully, someone will bite. (Again, you're not a troll in your opinion, you are genuine.) When they point out the mistakes, you must not respond to their questions as written. You have 3 options.

    1. Ignore the comment.
    2. Misinterpret their comment.
    3. Accuse them of being a lackey of the dictatorship that is modern mathematics.

    You shoud start with 1 or 2. Probably 2, even if your misinterpretation is accidental. Avoid going into mode 3 instantly. Of course, the longer you've been doing this the faster you can reach stage three. Indeed, it is almost expected.

    Bonus points, that I mentioned above, are also available for the following.

    1. Rejoining moderated forums under pseudonyms and getting banned again. This really shows you're sticking to your theory and believe it is correct. It also proves that there *is* a conspiracy to shut you up.

    2. E-mailing the colleagues of those who offer help in an attempt to get them fired for conduct unbecoming of an academic. (I'm not joking, here, David C. Ullrich had that happen to him.)

    3. Likening yourself to some mathematician (or full on martyr). Ramunajan is a very good one for mathematicians. Physicist cranks might care to drop some comments about how Newton believed in witchcraft, and spent his last days looking to turn base metal into gold. A fundamental misunderstanding of comments like 'set theory is a malaise on modern mathematics', or whatever it is can be used here. This can be used to show that you don't graps the difference between 'wrong' in the sense of 'this is silly, and a bad thing to think about', with 'this is factually incorrect.'

    4. Misquoting people, or ascribing completely unjustified responses to them. Only last week I appear to have been accused of 'thinking the bible codes are true' because it appeared in a peer reveiwed journal.


    You will lose points if you actually ever listen to any of the advice given to you. See, that is the real crankery - not listening to what other people have to tell you and learning, but instead continuing to propose unfounded ideas without thinking things through clearly.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2007
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  3. Jun 2, 2007 #2

    morphism

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    My favorite bits:
    :rofl:
     
  4. Jun 2, 2007 #3

    mathwonk

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    Great! these are much better than most of the threaded math jokes. Many real (??) mathematicians also share some of these qualities it seems, esepcially in being hard to read. They cherish such practices as giving citations for obscure results, but only by name of publication, in regard to a difficult lengthy work, never by page number or actual theorem. E.g. "for more background, see Principia Mathematica." Or, "for the first occurrence of this result, see the collected works of Euler".
     
  5. Jun 2, 2007 #4
    There is actually a video of a lecture by the great Jean-Pierre Serre on video.google with the title How to write mathematics badly.
    Quite amusing, although the audio isn't too good.
     
  6. Jun 2, 2007 #5
    Currently, I'm trying to become a crank in mathematics, but I really feel that I should trying hard to come up with a perpetual motion machine, since that has been my real passion for a long time. Is it possible to becoming an engineering crank after mathematics?

    Any advice appreciated. :smile:
     
  7. Jun 2, 2007 #6

    Hurkyl

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    Anything's possible if you don't put your mind to it!
     
  8. Jun 2, 2007 #7
    I proved the Riemann hypothesis, built a perpetual motion machine, faked the moon landing, shot JFK, built the pyramids and beat up Kublai Khan. I AM NOT A CRACKPOT.
     
  9. Jun 2, 2007 #8
    Awesome, thanks for the link.
     
  10. Jun 3, 2007 #9

    Hurkyl

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    Pfft. Do you really expect me to believe that? That you beat up Kublai Khan?
     
  11. Jun 3, 2007 #10

    matt grime

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    More on terminology.

    As mentioned - you should not explain your terminology, but there is greater scope for confusion than just this. You have 2 choices.

    Choice A. If you have decided that all of mathematics is wrong (or at least some part of it) you will want to invent entirely new terms. They should be suggestively titled, though what they suggest must not be explained.

    Choice B. If you're trying to stay very close to looking mainstream, then you will want to use existing terminology. But remember that you must never use it correctly. Frequent use of the equals symbol for things that are patently unequal is required. Bonus points are available for not acknowledging that you're misusing things even after it has been pointed out to you.
     
  12. Jun 3, 2007 #11

    AlephZero

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    I suggest deducting bonus points for use of the word "normal". It already has at least 57 different meanings in mathematics, so abusing it is too easy.
     
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